5. Show a Willingness to Change
We will never be ready to embrace change. When we force the change, we will stir up resentment and anger. Why? Change usually happens when we aren’t enough prime for change. We can convince ourselves that the proposed change needs to be close to perfect before we pull the trigger.
G.K. Chesterton was a Believer who often debated writer and atheist George Bernard Shaw during WWI. Once when Shaw was attacking the lack of love from Christians, Chesterton made the point that all Believers are on a journey and learning as we move forward.
“Anything worth doing is worth doing poorly.” – G.K. Chesterton
A church that attracts the millennial generation is one that is teachable and willing to change, even when the details aren’t complete. If we wait till we have all the answers or even clear plans for success with the change, we’ll likely never even start down the path.
The message the church sometimes sends, “When this or that happens, then we will be ready for the change.” Guess what – we will never be perfectly ready for a change. It’s understandable that the Old-timers in a congregation especially resist change. They’re dead set on avoiding the discomfort of getting out onto the thin branches.
I’ve heard ditty “The older you become, the wiser you will be.” For the most part, the truth is “The older you grow, the more careful you become.”
Take a risk.
It’s almost a guarantee that we will raise the ire of some who are defensive about any tinkering with the church they seem to own. Those already here are their “Church family” as they see it, and you don’t want to mess with someone’s church family. Research, as well as experience, tells us that it’s not possible to be in the family of any sort that is larger than about a dozen. Anger that comes from the old guard stems from the fear that they will not be comfortable any longer – which might be partly accurate. They want to be part of the group they’ve grown close to and predictability. As well, they like being a big fish in a little pond.
If you want to help these folks, smile and show them patience. Point them to the fruit that is coming as God opens to people like them who were once new once upon a time.
When we embrace change with a smile on our faces, they will be more likely to cooperate with the new thing – the new atmosphere – that God is building.
Bonus Tip: Fun, fun, fun!
God has built into all of our hearts the desire to embrace life with joy. The Westminster Catechism nails it down in a sentence:
“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” — Westminster Catechism 1.1 & 1.2
Some in this generation has decided that to fit into the Christian world, they need to become angry. I know that was the message I heard from well-intentioned veteran Believers.
God’s presence creates an atmosphere that creates the best party imaginable. When we take ourselves too seriously, we destroy the feel of a party and can create a funeral service. I figured out that no one is looking for a funeral. They’ve had enough of that during their week.
When we take ourselves too seriously, we will likely kill the party that God wants to build. I’ve found there are ways to redo parts of the typical Sunday service. For example, at the end of worship, instead of going through the robotic words of, “Say hi to your neighbor” mix things up with non-religious ways to accomplish the same thing.
Try this – Turn to your neighbor and say, “I’m getting hungry. I hope this thing doesn’t run too long.” They will laugh and even with more enthusiasm connect with those around them.
A church with momentum has the feel of a party – the opposite of a funeral service. People are in a desperate search for healing and encouragement.
Funerals don’t change people. They just make them even more miserable than the way they came in. Positive parties bring encouragement, joy, and even healing.
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” —Plato
Sometimes a good way to start this change is to adopt a motto. Here’s one of mine –
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is… fun!” (2 Cor. 3:17, KJV)